BANGKOK – The price of oil stayed near $106 a barrel Tuesday as energy markets waited for the next U.S. report on crude and fuel inventories for confirmation of recent signs of increased demand.
Benchmark crude for August delivery was down 35 cents at $105.97 a barrel at midafternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 37 cents to settle at $106.32 on Monday.
Oil is up about 10 percent so far this month. It has been jolted higher by unexpectedly sharp drops in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories, which suggest stronger demand. The military ouster in early July of Egypt's president has also added a premium to crude, reflecting the risk of supply disruption from political instability in a country that controls the Suez Canal.
Those factors were tempered Monday by a second straight quarter of slowing economic growth in China and slower growth in U.S. retail sales in June. China's economy expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter after 7.7 percent growth in the previous quarter.
Wednesday's report from the Energy Information Administration on U.S. crude and fuel inventories might show a third consecutive weekly drop in supplies. That would bolster the case of those traders and analysts who believe the oil price will rise further because U.S. energy demand is rising in step with faster hiring.
Brent crude was down 25 cents to $107.85 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $3.04 a gallon.
— Heating oil was steady at $3.03 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 2.4 cents to $3.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.